Irrawaddy Photographer Honored for Letpadan Coverage

By The Irrawaddy 29 May 2015

RANGOON — Irrawaddy photographer Sai Zaw has been announced as a winner of the Allard Photography Prize for his coverage of a crackdown on student protesters in March.

Sai Zaw, 32, was present in the Pegu Division town of Letpadan on March 10, where hundreds of demonstrators calling for reform to the National Education Law had been barricaded into a monastery by police forces for several days. Despite being promised passage from the monastery that morning, tensions soon escalated between the two sides, and officers eventually launched a violent attack on demonstrators.

One of the photojournalist’s images of the crackdown—a student cowering from the assault of four baton-wielding police officers—was announced as a winner of the semi-annual Allard Prize Photography Competition on Friday. Awarded by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law, the competition is held to recognize “exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law.”

“I hope this award highlights the abuse of rights in Burma, and how people in Burma are losing their rights,” said Sai Zaw. “I hope the photo can show what is happening here to an international audience.”

Nearly 70 Letpadan demonstrators remain in nearby Thayawady Prison, awaiting trial on a raft of unlawful assembly charges.